Wow. Time flies. It seems like only yesterday I was giving my clinic Helpful Hints for Hosting Operating Sessions at the NMRA’s 75th anniversary national convention in Milwaukee. During this presentation, I described how we use wireless telephones for communication during operating sessions. Attendees at one session asked about the phones I selected for the Shenandoah Division.
Prior to the May 2010 operating session we used FRS radios on two separate channels: the dispatcher used one channel to talk with road crews, with the supervisor of train operations, dispatcher, North Salem yardmaster, and superintendent used a second channel. When crew size warranted, the STO used a third channel to call crews from the crew lounge.
After operating several times on the BNSF Fall River Division, and using the intercom system there, I decided to use cordless telephones with intercom for communication between the STO, dispatcher, North Salem yardmaster, superintendent, and crew call. The dispatcher continues to communicate with trains crews via FRS radios.
After doing some investigation, I decided to use the VTech 6229 wireless phone system (note: link to Amazon for convenience). This phone system allows up to 12 handsets to be used, and it has an easy to use intercom system.
I initially bought the 5 telephone set to cover the locations I needed, and I later added an additional phone at the south end of Catawba so train crews inbound to North Salem can call the yardmaster for arrival instructions. To assist crew members, I made a list of the intercom stations and attached it to the back of the phone as shown in the photo above.